Sure to make a splash at this year’s ColdWaves V event with her pop-infused brand of industrial, ReGen is happy to speak with this exciting new artist – Kanga!
An InterView with Kanga DuChamp of Kanga
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Hailing from Los Angeles, Kanga is one of several up-and-coming artists making a splash at this year’s ColdWaves V event in Chicago. Drawing on fetishistic themes of sexual objectification, angst, and melancholy, and infusing a decidedly pop songwriting sensibility into her otherwise darkly electronic and edgy compositions, she is already an exciting part of a new wave of industrial music. Having worked as a programmer on several horror movies, including such high profile titles as The Conjuring II
, Insidious III
, and Terrance Zdunich’s The Devil’s Carnival
, she’s already proven to have the chops necessary to take the scene by storm and create music that takes the genre into sensually enticing directions. Signing to Negative Gain Productions for the November release of her self-titled album, featuring her collaborations with such legendary figures such as Rhys Fulber, Greg Reely, and guitarist Matthew Setzer, Kanga’s star is most certainly on the rise. ReGen
had the pleasure to speak with the artist about her creative process, her thoughts on the evolution of technology and the industrial scene, and hints about taking her music to the next level in the coming months.
Kanga is performing this year’s ColdWaves V – what can you tell us about how Kanga came to be part of this event?
DuChamp: To be honest, I’m not exactly sure myself. Jason and Kelly Novak are sharp and have good taste, so I don’t question their methods.
For an event that not only features a number of older acts (usually reforming after a long period of inactivity) as well as newer acts like yourself, what are your thoughts on the way industrial and electronic music has evolved? In what ways do you feel younger artists like yourself are carrying the mantle of industrial and edgy electronic music, especially with respect to the older acts?
DuChamp: I think it’s really important to know your history and to pay homage to those that have come before you. The fact that all of these older bands are still passionate about what they do is a testament to their strengths. As far as ‘the scene’ is concerned, I think a lot of us are a bit exasperated with the fact that the music that we love has been niched into the same homogenous sub group for the past 20 years. Genre terms like ‘industrial’ have been usurped and placed in the same stale exclusionary niche making it completely inaccessible and off the radar to anyone who doesn’t subscribe to a certain aesthetic or lifestyle. I think the worst thing that can happen to music or art is the belief that it should only be accessed by a chosen few. I try to make music that is unapologetically pop and accessible without sacrificing the energy and excitement that a lot of us find in our type of ‘scene music.’
On the other hand, your debut album has you working with the likes of Matthew Setzer, Rhys Fulber, and Greg Reely – what have you noticed about the way the older acts are embracing the new sounds and artists?
: I think any artist who actually likes
music wants to see it develop and go to new places. Matthew, Rhys, and Greg are industrial royalty, but their field of vision is so much wider than the genre boundaries that we use. Both Rhys and Greg have produced everything from top 40 to world music, so the fact that they both offered to sign onto the album was one of the biggest compliments I could have ever hoped for. As for the performances, Matthew brings the elements of experience and showmanship that you can only get by being a dedicated performer for so long. He’s not only a brilliant musician but he’s also a natural performer, so his energy has really contributed a lot to the show. It’s a lot less lonely up there.
Having learned how to create and produce music on your own, what would you say was the most important thing you learned through your working with legends like Fulber and Setzer?
: When Rhys signed on it was kind of the validating factor that told me what I was doing was going in the right direction. He pretty much grasped what I was doing immediately, which made working with him really smooth. I think it’s important to work with people who are on the same page as you when you’re trying to do more conceptual stuff because you can hear that investment in the music. It just sounds more organic. It was the same with Matthew. I initially wrote all his guitar parts for him to record on the album, but the minute we started laying down his tracks it just turned into this spontaneous creative endeavor. The session was so easy and natural that it made me realize that I needed to relinquish my perfectionist control over the music, and that to have someone come in and contribute their own talents is invaluable.
Pop and more ‘conventional’ or ‘mainstream’ music seems to incorporate more industrial and electronic elements than ever before – what are your thoughts on how this has affected people’s perceptions of the more experimental forms that created such sounds?
Similarly, one could argue a heavier element of ‘pop’ in ‘underground’ music… why do you feel this is?
In what ways have these mindsets been a part of how you approach your unique style?
: I think ‘pop’ has long been a dirty word to people who want that creative depth in experimental music, but I don’t think that they are mutually exclusive. Pop music has always stolen what was new and exciting in the underground and repackaged it for the masses. A lot of the time this is frustrating because it feels like the mainstream media will come in and ruin a style or aesthetic before it has time to really grow and develop. The other side of this is how genres create cultural purists who feel threatened if they feel that their style becomes tainted and more accessible to more people. I think you can find an easy medium – I think it’s already been found by bands like Nine Inch Nails and Tool, but for whatever reason, it seems like the genre has regressed since then causing some people to want that reopening again.
You’ve signed onto Negative Gain Productions for your debut album – so far, what are your observations on the way this label has conducted its business that you felt has been most beneficial to your development as an artist? The album is slated to be released in November, correct?
It seems like more labels like NGP are starting to step up, especially with regard to the smaller tier/niche of industrial music. At the same time, many artists are self-releasing and there seem to be more avenues for it. What do you think should be the next step for the way artists and labels evolve, both creatively and business-wise?
(BTW, I know that’s a very loaded question)
: NGP is cool because they totally get the new attitude. Roger and Micah are experienced in the scene, but are also part of the movement of people wanting to see new things in this type of music. Anyone who facilitates young artists and gives them the backing to do their thing in the face of opposing purists deserves a medal. They have an ear for talent so I’m glad that they’re picking up artists who are trying to step outside the box. As for labels and releases in the new age of media are concerned, I think that in order for a label to be successful they have to keep an ear to the ground and really listen to what the new music economy is after. The fads change so quickly now. Being on top of what happens to be selling well at the moment and what kind of branding works best is something that an artist (ideally) should never
have to worry about – that’s a label’s job. And I think that’s the biggest plus about being on a label as opposed to being self-releasing. A lot of artists have the branding skills to sell themselves without the help of a label, but I know for people like me, I have no interest in expending any energy on cultivating a personality. I just do my thing and if it catches on, that’s great, but it’s nice to have someone else behind you worrying about all the non-artistic stuff.
How important is it for you to keep up with the latest developments in music technology? What is exciting you the most in that regard, what new gear or software is appealing to you at the moment?
What sorts of developments would you like to see in the tech and how both you and new artists will be utilizing them?
: I like being tech savvy, but I think it has to be a balance between being knowledgeable of the science of your craft and also not being trapped by the limitations of technology. I make a lot of my sounds almost exclusively in Omnisphere because it’s the best software synth that actually uses real samples. The level of control and freedom in Omnisphere has yet to be beaten by any other program… for me at least, so maybe that’s a limitation in itself, but I just have really enjoyed learning the ins and outs of it. I have a lot of friends who do analog and modular synth work. It’s really cool seeing how that’s progressed a lot lately with newer artists kind of fighting against ‘digital tyranny.’ I just don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in that. Yet. But I think when it comes down to it you can make a great track with next to nothing. At the end of the day, it’s the ideas that resonate with people and I think that’s important to remember.
Similarly, what do you feel is or should be the next step in the evolution of music – not just for the industrial scene, but for music as an art form? What would you like to see/hear happen in music?
: We are seeing the resurgence of the album. I think everyone got so excited with the freedom of choice that the internet gave us that we got really obsessive with curating playlists and making everything so meticulously personalized that we lost interest in listening to albums. When I was working on the LP, I had several people tell me that I was wasting my time because no one has the patience anymore to sit through a 10 track album anymore. I think that’s lame. Whether you like them or not, the artists who are at the forefront of popular music, like Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, and Young Thug, have already tapped back into this and are starting to put out conceptual albums again. There’s this saying… I forget how it goes, but it talks about how too many choices gives us the illusion of freedom, but it actually can confine us to being too one track minded. I think it’s cool to relinquish some of that self curating control and let the artist tell you to ‘sit back and enjoy what I’ve put together for you.’
What’s next for Kanga? Are there plans to tour for the album?
: Matthew and I have booked dates in San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles (Das Bunker 20 and the album release show), but I think this Fall is not the most opportune time to go on a tour. I think the best thing to do is to try not to get distracted by what I think is expected after releasing an album, but instead try to continue making music and content to keep myself stimulated and hopefully entertain others in the process. I love playing shows though, so I would really like to put together a tour for 2017. So we will see…
Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp
Negative Gain Productions
Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter
Website, Facebook, Twitter
Photography courtesy of Kanga